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Astana 2-3 Villarreal: Submarine finish first in Group A

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We win the tiebreak over Slavia based on head-to-head (if we finish even on points)

Girona v Villarreal - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Villarreal defeated FC Astana 3-2 today in chilly Kazakhstan with goals from Daniel Raba and a brace from Cedric Bakambu to comfortably remain top of Group A and guarantee qualification for the round of 32.

With that result, the Yellow Submarine (well, we played in red today!) qualifies for the round of 32 in first place in our group. As we found out last season, finishing first in our group is far better than finishing second!

The teams were:

FC Astana: Eric; Shomko, Anicic, Postnikov, Shitov, Logvinenko (Despotovic, m. 82), Muzhikov (Tomasov, m. 70), Maevski, Beysebekov (Grahovac, m. 67), Twumasi, Kabananga.

Villarreal CF: Barbosa; Rukavina, Bonera, Víctor Ruiz, Marín, Rodrigo, Trigueros, Raba (Ramiro, m. 76), Fornals (Bakambu, m. 59), Sansone, Bacca (Soriano, m. 66).

Astana had been unbeaten on their artificial pitch in the Kazakh capital before this, and although Villarreal should have taken an early lead (Sansone being denied by keeper Eric on two occasions) the home side scored first when Junior Kabananga picked up an errant Villarreal pass outside our own box and fired an arrow past the leaping Barbosa. Daniel Raba evened things up before the break with a shot from a tight angle past Eric.

It remained 1-1 and on the hour mark Pablo Fornals was withdrawn for Cedric Bakambu, and within five minutes Sansone had fed him an excellent pass and Cedric finished well to give Villarreal the lead. Bakambu added another goal, pouncing on a poor pass at the top of the box, in the 83rd minute, while Astana’s Patrick Twumasi scored five minutes later with another accurately placed long shot past Barbosa.

Whscored had Raba, Sansone and Bakambu as our best players; sounds as though the scoreline slightly flattered the home side. Highlights are here.